The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 14, 2021

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
2. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
3. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
4. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
5. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
6. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
7. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
8. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
9. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
10. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
11. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
12. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
13. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
14. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
15. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
16. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
17. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
18. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
19. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
20. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
21. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
22. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
23. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
24. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
25. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
26. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
27. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
28. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
29. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
30. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
31. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
32. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
33. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
34. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
35. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
36. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
37. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
38. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
39. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
40. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
41. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
42. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
43. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
44. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
45. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
46. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
47. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
48. Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” +1 (6/10)
49. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
50. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +9
Overall Pulse +11
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “To Be Loved By You,” 3/10

Gone:

  • Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Dylan Scott, “Nobody” (down from #4 to #8)

In Real Trouble:

  • Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” (down from #11 to #12, gained only fifty-one spins and lost points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #37 to #38, lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twenty-eight spins and 126 points)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (holds at #45, but gained only twenty-three spins and forty-two points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (holds at #46, but lost its bullet)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (holds at #47, but bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Basically, if you were below Ballerini at #42, you had a rough week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #8 to #4)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (holds #1 for a second week, leading to calls to have Combs mediate the Biden/Putin summit)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
  • Gabby Barrett, “Footprints On The Moon”
  • Brantley Gilbert ft. Toby Keith & HARDY, “The Worst Country Song Of All Time” (doesn’t HARDY already have this title with “REDNECKER”?)

Overall Thoughts: As expected, spins were at a premium this week with Thanos holding court at #1 and yet another massive debut hitting the charts (the surprise was that the debut was not Nelly/FGL or King/Lambert, but an unexpected drop from the Zac Brown Band), so the key was survival this week was prioritizing quality over quantity: A number of songs were not able to earn triple-digit spin gains, but still posted respectable point gains because they got the spins that mattered. The big questions this week:

  • Has “Forever After All” denied some songs the #1 position, or merely delayed them? Bentley and Young/Brown had large but not outlandish gains last week, and Thanos is closing to peaking on the daily Mediabase charts, so I think the tracks at #2 and #3 still have another push in them. There’s still a chance everyone will share the top spot, albeit a week or two late.
  • Is “One Too Many” past its sell-by date? Urban and Pink’s single posted terrible numbers for a second week in a row, and now stick out like a sore thumb in the top half of the charts (everyone else managed to earn at least 300 points, even “Undivided”). Given that the song has already topped the country charts in both Australia and Canada, might Capitol decide they’re satisfied and pull the plug?
  • After all my predictions of doom and gloom, the Pulse has managed to defy gravity for a few weeks. Can it last? With “Fill Them Boots,” “No Sad Songs,” and “Old School’s In” on the horizon, my prediction is “not really,” but there ‘s enough of a buffer now where the Pulse might manage to avoid going negative. Maybe.

As the capacity crowd and massive beer cup snake at Wrigley Field demonstrated over the weekend, the coronavirus continues to recede in the U.S., with new daily case and death averages falling to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic (the overall death count has now reached 600,000). Vaccination totals are climbing, restrictions are being lifted, and life seems to be generally going back to normal (in my case, this means avoiding the outside world voluntarily rather than by order of the governor). Is it time to declare victory and finally revert these posts to the ‘Current Pulse’ title we last saw back on March 10th of 2020?

The answer is a resounding “no,” for a couple of reasons:

Ultimately, the pandemic remains a pandemic, and so we should continue to treat it like one. I implore folks who have not yet been vaccinated to receive the shot at their earliest opportunity, and continue wearing your mask and keeping your distance until you’re fully vaccinated. I also call on local, state, and national leaders to ensure that everyone has easy access to these vaccines. For all our efforts, our current success against the coronavirus remains potentially fragile, so let’s all keep doing our part to make sure this progress continues.

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